13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Today the Year 3 children of the parish primary school celebrated First Holy Communion. Music was provided by the children of the school, and the cathedral choir had the day off. We’re back next Sunday.

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Praise to the holiest
Kyrie Kyrie for 3 voices, adapted from William Byrd (mcb)
Gloria Coventry Gloria (Peter Jones)
Psalm Ps 62: For you my soul is thirsting (author unknown)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts Your love is finer than life (Marty Haugen)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen German Mass (Franz Schubert, arr. Richard Proulx)
Agnus Dei Hurd Mass (Bob Hurd)
Communion The eyes of everyone (mcb)
Postcommunion Oculi Omnium (Charles Wood, 1866-1926)
Recessional At the Lamb’s high feast

We heard the words of Psam 62(63) twice, once in Marty Haugen’s fine setting with three-part close harmony for the women’s voices in the verses, and once in today’s responsorial psalm.

We sang the latter to an Anglican psalm tone - a rare venture for us into a sound-world quite different from our more usual style, namely tones by, or in the style of, Laurence Bévenot. Bévenot’s psalm tones are inspired by the Gregorian modes, though with a simpler termination (cadence) at the end of each line than in the Gregorian tones themselves. Anglican chant, by comparison, is both more elaborate and more formulaic at the ends of the lines, and the task in rehearsal was to make light of the cadences, so as not to find ourselves repeatedly subordinating the natural speech rhythms to those of the music.

I’m not sure who wrote the tone we used. We were singing from a manuscript copy found gathering dust in the choir’s music library. Choir members who move in the right circles said it was a well-known Anglican tone, but between us we weren’t able to pinpoint it.

The setting of the Kyrie was an adaptation by me of the Kyrie from the Byrd Mass for Three Voices, expanded (chiefly by repetition) to accommodate the third form of the Penitential Rite. Click here to download a copy, which you’re most welcome to print out and make use of.

The first reading today from Zechariah, and the Gospel reading, both talked of our Lord’s suffering. The stark prophecy: they will look on the one whom they have pierced prompted the choice of our final hymn of thanksgiving –

At the Lamb’s high feast we sing
Praise to our victorious King,
Who hath washed us in the tide
Flowing from his pierced side.

[update 26/6/10: fixed the link to the Kyrie.]

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Remember your mercy, Lord (Paul Inwood)
Kyrie Lord, show us your mercy (mcb)
Gloria Missa Ubi Caritas (Bob Hurd)
Psalm Ps 31 (Stephen Dean/Harry Bramma)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts Lord, hear my voice (mcb)
Sanctus, Acclamation A, Amen German Mass (Franz Schubert, arr. Richard Proulx)
Agnus Dei Hurd Mass (Bob Hurd)
Communion There is one thing I ask (Chris O’Hara)
Postcommunion Adoremus in aeternum (adapted from Gregorio Allegri, 1582-1652)
Recessional Rejoice, the Lord is King

We were compared favourably with the Sistine Chapel choir this morning by Fr Tony, freshly returned from a trip to Rome to celebrate the end of the Year for Priests. His approbation was for our singing of the chant verses in Adoremus in Aeternum, adapted from Allegri. The spirit of the chant, it seems to me, is in aestu temperies: coolness. There’s no room for ‘personality’ in the singing of it; rather, the voices of the singers, like the notes of the melody themselves, are a vehicle for the text, and the musical pace and dynamic contour are those of the rise and fall of breathing.

I’ve looked hard for a source for the Allegri. We were singing from photocopies of a crumbling original long out of copyright, marked with the phrase from Gregorio Allegri but not revealing who the adaptation was done by, nor from what original source. At a guess, I’d imagine it was Richard Terry. Can anyone shed any more light?

Our music today led us through an unfolding reflection on God’s mercy. We began with pleas for forgiveness in our opening song, Paul Inwood’s setting of Psalm 24(25), and in the Responsorial Psalm (31(32)); our song at the Preparation of the Gifts (which was actually a setting of the Entrance antiphon) combined the same plea with the yearning for God’s presence articulated in Psalm 26(27). The latter psalm also furnished the text for the Communion antiphon, sung to Chris O’Hara’s gentle tuneful setting. Then in the Allegri we sang quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia eius (for his mercy is confirmed over us), and our final hymn took up the injunction we’d sung earlier in Psalm 31(32) to rejoice in the Lord.

The Body and Blood of Christ (Year C, 2010)

Entrance Sweet Sacrament divine
Kyrie Taizé Kyrie I
Gloria Coventry Gloria (Peter Jones)
Psalm Ps 109 (Geoffrey Boulton Smith)
Gospel Acclamation Salisbury Alleluia (Christopher Walker)
Preparation of the Gifts Ave Verum Corpus (Charles Gounod, 1818-1893)
Sanctus, Acclamation, Amen German Mass (Franz Schubert, arr Richard Proulx)
Agnus Dei Hurd Mass (Bob Hurd)
Communion Take and Eat (Michael Joncas)
Postcommunion O Sacrum Convivium (mcb)
Recessional O Jesus Christ, remember

Lo, round thy lowly shrine with suppliant hearts we come seemed fitting words for our gathering hymn; more so, perhaps, than to sing a much-loved hymn of Eucharistic adoration such as this one during Communion. At Communion we echoed the words of today’s second reading: this is my body, in Michael Joncas’s Take and eat. Our Lord’s command entails something deeper than adoration: an encounter with Christ from which it is impossible to emerge unchanged.

I wrote my setting of O Sacrum Convivium the week I joined the cathedral choir, in November 1990. It’s my attempt to sound French, I think: not Messiaen, but maybe somewhere around Ravel. Have a listen here if you have the Scorch plugin installed on your computer.

Michael Milnes RIP

We learned today of the unexpected sad death of Mike Milnes, organist here at Salford Cathedral from 1986 to 2000. May he rest in peace.